After losing his top three pitchers and all of his starters, Ardrey Kell High baseball coach Hal Bagwell said he figured 2013 would probably be a rebuilding year.
Ive got a pitcher at N.C. State, one at UNC and one at Army, Bagwell said. I lost my starters. I wasnt expecting much, but I tell you what, this group has really surprised me.
After Fridays 13-3 win against East Mecklenburg, Bagwells young team sits on top of the Southwestern 4A conference standings at 8-1, 5-0. The Knights lead East Meck (8-2, 4-1), South Meck (6-3, 4-1) and old rival Providence (7-4, 4-1).
Ardrey Kell plays at Providence on Thursday.
This is one of the most unique groups I have ever had, Bagwell said. Every time an opponent has scored on us, we have answered. We are resilient and loose and confident and were having fun.
Friday, pitcher Doug Norman struck out 10, and Cole Smith had three RBIs. Bagwell said Ardrey Kell is hitting .390 as a team and has won several games recently via the 10-run mercy rule.
The Knights have won 12 straight conference games and have six starters batting .400 or better, including Zach Featherstone (.552), who had 19 RBIs in his first eight games.
Man, Bagwell said, I cant explain it.
Olympics national basketball rankings
After winning the N.C. 4A title, Olympics unbeaten basketball team was feted by the Steele Creek Community with a pep rally Thursday. The Trojans (30-0) also finished their season ranked in several national polls.
USA Today ranks the Trojans No. 11 in the nation, up three spots from last week. MaxPreps ranks Olympic fifth. Nationalguard.com ranks the Trojans No. 70 (scratched my head at that one).
Tennis: Covenant Day and Newton-Conover off to hot starts
• After losing its first two matches to Swannanoa Owen (6-3) and Hickory (5-4), Newton-Conovers boys tennis team has run off 10 straight wins. Coach Brian Kings team beat East Burke 8-1 Friday. In the past eight wins, Newton-Conovers opponents have been able to win no more than two matches.
Covenant Days boys tennis team is 6-0 and is 48-6 in individual matches. The Lions beat Country Day (7-2) and Providence Day (5-4) for the first time in school history.
Golf: Cannon wins Irish Creek Invitational
Cannon School, coached by PGA professional Pat Whisenant, won the Irish Creek High School Invitational earlier this month. The event featured 13 of the top programs in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties.
Tuesday, Cannon beat N.C. Independent School power Providence Day by 23 strokes. The team features one senior and three sophomores.
Soccer: Cannon star named national player of the week
Cannon junior Anna Estep was named the National Soccer Coaches national player of the week. Estep was honored for scoring nine goals and four assists in three games. In her first six games this season, she scored 21 goals and had eight assists.
Estep is committed to Penn.
Football: Rocky Rivers Andre Rice named to all-star team
Rocky River quarterback Andre Rice has been named to the East-West high school football all-star game, coach Jason Fowler told the Observer.
The game matches some of the states top seniors from the eastern and western halves of the state against each other. The game will be played in Greensboro in July.
Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr